There’s an interesting article by Francis Gilbert in the Guardian today which questions David Cameron’s ideas of what makes a good teacher.
Cameron, you will recall, wants every teacher to have at least a higher second class degree, but Gilbert thinks that qualifications alone do not a teacher make, and suggests instead that there are four different kinds of successful attitudes to the job, which he names as: despot, carer, charmer or rebel.
As someone who came from a very working-class family which respected education but usually left it to the ‘professionals’ and so did not interfere as I attended a failing school (which failed completely a few years after I left) but who has gone on to be fairly successful at teaching those who have returned to adult learning for a ‘second chance,’ my experience is that there are schools without any of these characters (indeed had I not met a ‘rebel’ supply teacher and discovered that a totally different world existed I honestly can see myself never escaping the dole queue and the occasional trip to Millwall.)
I’d like to think that my experience is one now one left behind in the distant past and that schools these days are full of the people that Gilbert talks about, but when I set my yearly intake of ‘second-chancers’ a first essay on their own educational experiences they never fail to convince me that this is sadly not the case in Comprehensives. Whilst my experience as a senior examiner has led me to believe that there are many grammar schools out there which have taken rote-learning to such an extreme that their biggest success is stifling any creativity and individuality amongst their pupils.
Over the years I have picked up high scores in virtually every teaching assessment (although there is always room for a disaster.) On the one hand, I do have a 2/1 from a good university, but on the other I have, as a result of the school mentioned earlier, virtually no GCE’s (as were) and not a single A level – having entered said good university via an access course. So I am not sure Cameron would want me as a teacher. But as I cannot work out whether I am a ‘carer’, ‘charmer’ or rebel (I’m not a despot, it just doesn’t work with adults) I’m not altogether sure Gilbert would want me either.
No matter really, I’m not fond of kids and can barely tolerate teenagers, and have found what I am good at in the netherworld of the second-chance adult. But what made a good teacher for you?
Do read the article!